Biotin (Vitamin B7) is an important water-soluble vitamin that helps the body extract energy from nutrients. All B vitamins share this ability. However each one has other specific traits of its own and biotin is associated with hair growth and healthy nails and skin
Biotin (Vitamin B7) is an important water-soluble vitamin that helps the body extract energy from nutrients. All B vitamins share this ability. However each one has other specific traits of its own and biotin is associated with hair growth and healthy nails and skin.
Biotin deficiency has been linked to brittle hair and hair loss. Additional symptoms of biotin deficiency can include fatigue, loss of appetite, dry eyes and dry or scaly skin. As is always the case, there is a lot to be said for eating a healthy, balanced diet.
However, many people take biotin pills in the hope that doing so will rejuvenate their thinning hair and/or make it look more lustrous and healthy.
Needless to say, biotin is also a key ingredient in many brands of hair tonic. Unfortunately, using biotin for hair growth may not be as effective as many people think.
What the Research Shows About Biotin and Hair Growth
The hair, skin and nails contain a fibrous structural protein called keratin. In animals, it’s also present in the hooves, horns, and claws.
Although research shows biotin plays an important role in building keratin infrastructure, there is a lack of evidence to support the use of biotin supplements for hair growth.
Researchers in the US carried out a clinical review of 18 clinical trials involving the use of biotin for improving hair and nails.
After examining the data, the researchers concluded there is insufficient evidence to support the use of biotin for either role.
However, the researchers acknowledged the fact that biotin supplements may offer value to people who are biotin deficient. [SOURCE 1]
A Swiss research team evaluated the evidence for using biotin as a treatment for women complaining of hair loss.
They also came to the conclusion that biotin supplements are only likely to benefit people who are biotin deficient. [SOURCE 2]
The researchers responsible for a clinical review conducted in New York also stressed a lack of evidence to support the use of biotin to remedy hair loss.
After stating biotin supplements are glamorized in popular media, they went on to say “biotin supplements are in vogue without there being any real reason to be so.” [SOURCE 3]
Natural Sources of Biotin
Most people generally get all the biotin they require from their food. However, anyone wishing to take serious steps to boost their biotin intake can do so by eating more biotin-rich food.
Good sources include:
- Beef Liver
- Pork Chops
- Whole Grains
- Dairy Products
- Sunflower Seeds
- Yeast Extracts (Marmite/Vegemite)
Although eggs are a good source of biotin, it may be best to avoid eating them raw. The same can be said for products that contain them, such as mayonnaise. At least if you are serious about boosting your biotin levels to support hair growth.
Raw eggs contain a compound called avidin that binds with biotin and prevents it from being absorbed. [SOURCE 4]
Avidin does this with all biotin, not just the biotin sharing its shell space. However, when eggs are exposed to heat, during cooking, it destroys avidin’s ability to bind with biotin.
How Much Biotin Do You Need Per Day?
As yet, there is no Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) for biotin. However, the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) provides some figures for Adequate Intakes (AIs).
|Age||Male / Female||Female During Pregnancy||Breastfeeding Female|
|0-6 months||5 mcg|
|7-12 months||6 mcg|
|1-3 years||8 mcg|
|4-8 years||12 mcg|
|9-13 years||20 mcg|
|14-18 years||25 mcg||30 mcg||35 mcg|
|19 years +||30 mcg||30 mcg||35 mcg|
Factors That May Contribute to Biotin Deficiency
Most people will get all the biotin they need from their food. However, anyone suffering from Crohn’s disease or any other medical condition that interferes with nutrient absorption may become biotin deficient.
There is also a condition called Biotinidase deficiency that renders the body incapable of recycling biotin. It’s an inherited disorder that usually becomes apparent during early childhood. [SOURCE 5]
Excessive alcohol consumption can inhibit biotin absorption too, as can certain medications.
Some women may also develop marginal biotin deficiency during pregnancy.
When the body becomes biotin deficient, for any reason, hair loss becomes more likely. If the deficiency is being caused by a medical condition, it’s important to seek medical advice.
There may also be other signs of biotin deficiency present, such as brittle nails and fatigue, that provide a further indication of the problem.
If the biotin deficiency is due to poor diet or alcohol abuse, the smart thing to do is make the necessary lifestyle changes. However, seeking medical advice is still a smart way to go.
There are other things that can cause hair loss. A doctor may discover the root cause of the problem is not biotin deficiency at all and will then be able to advise a suitable course of treatment.
The Value of Biotin Supplements for Hair Loss
All the evidence available at the present time suggest biotin supplements only benefit people who are biotin deficient. For those who are, such a supplement should bring the body’s biotin level up to what it should be, thereby encouraging improved hair growth.
Anyone who is experiencing hair loss due to a lack of biotin in will likely find a supplement is the answer to their problem. Although most healthy people would likely see similar results just by adding more biotin-rich food to their diet.
There is no solid evidence to suggest bombarding the body with excessive amounts of biotin will offer additional benefits.
Do Biotin Hair Restorers Work?
The hair normally gets its biotin delivered by the blood. Despite all the claims hair tonic manufacturers may make, there is no real proof that trying to provide biotin from the outside in will offer any benefit.
Hair-boosting shampoos or conditioners are unlikely to work either.
However, although they will do little to stop or reverse a receding hairline, such products may disguise thinning hair by making it appear thicker.
Biotin Side Effects
People are unlikely to suffer biotin-related side effect due to the biotin they get from food. Most people are also unlikely to have problems when using a biotin supplement, but minor side effects, such as nausea and diarrhea, cannot be ruled out.
Taking the supplement with food may be a good way to prevent such issues from occurring. It’s also best not to exceed the recommended dose unless a doctor has advised you otherwise.
How Long Does It Take for Biotin Supplements to Work?
Unless you are biotin deficient, a biotin supplement is unlikely to have any effect on your hair growth. It may help boost your energy levels though.
When the hair loss is due to biotin deficiency it may take a little while for the benefits to show. Some experts say it may take several months.
Consistency is one of the keys to success. That means making sure the diet provides sufficient biotin and/or taking biotin supplements every day.
The Bottom Line
If your hair is thinning or receding, taking a biotin supplement may help provide renewed growth. Just a standard tablet will do. There is no need to pay for expensive products.
However, a biotin supplement is only likely to work if you are biotin deficient and adding the right food to your diet would likely work just as well.
In time, the extra biotin will probably encourage healthier hair growth. If you’re bald it’s not going to help, but it may stop you becoming that way due to dietary deficiencies.
Bringing biotin levels up to par may also make your hair look healthier and give it extra shine.
Applying a hyped-up, high-priced, biotin hair restorer to your hair is likely to do little at all.
If you are experiencing hair loss or other symptoms that could be due to a lack of biotin, the best thing to do is seek medical advice.
Doctors can offer advice on dietary changes and biotin supplement usage. They are also the best people to find out if a medical condition is involved. Most people are not biotin deficient and it could your hair loss is not biotin related at all.